Saturday, June 05, 2004

One of those yesterdays...

Yesterday was one of those days, where I didn't get any novel written. I got a daughter off to Italy for the summer, though, with a working notebook computer which had arrived ninety minutes before she was due to leave for the airport, and got some words for the WOLVES opera written (someone wrote to ask me what made it an opera as opposed to a musical, and I think it's the plan to have the whole thing sung. It'll contain the words of the book, and then lots more). (My favourite bit I've written for it so far is The Grand Entrance of the Queen of Melanesia.) I have to try and catch up today.

Every now and again, since September the 11th, something will remind me that I may live here but I'm not an American. Having had some small experience of the new-improved-it's-us-against-them-and-you're-all-them version of the Immigration services I found this story utterly credible:,12271,1231089,00.html and post a link to it here mostly because some people reading this may be journalists coming to America from friendly nations, who need to know that they now (probably) need the appropriate visa or they may face deportation and suchlike.

(I've been very puzzled, my last couple of times flying into the US via Minneapolis, at the questions asked by the immigration officers. "So, did you get into much trouble with the local police in London?" was the one asked last time I came back, as if I was to be caught off-guard and say "Oh, not much trouble, just a night in the cells", and the time before that it was "Remember to let us know if you've got any fruit, or cheese, or marijuana, or anything like that, and we'll get rid of it for you" in the casual off-hand tones of someone hoping I'd say "thanks for reminding me, yes I did forgetfully leave half a pound of Cheshire cheese and a dozen joints in my bag" in return. I'm not sure if these questions are meant to startle me into some kind of admission of guilt, or if the immigration people just ask these things to keep themselves amused.)

Ok Neil, I've looked all over your site and I haven't been able to find an answer for this.
I was re-listening to "Snow, Glass, Apples" tonight (all around wonderful, by the way), and I remembered something that had caught my attention last time I had listened to it.
You refer to the "mound of Venus" as the base of the thumb.
I was always under the impression that one's mound of venus was nowhere near the thumb (well...I guess it really depends where the thumb is, but go with me on this) but was the mound of flesh located on top of a female's pubic bone. I checked my anatomy textbooks, and sure enough, the Mound of Venus (mons veneris/mons pubis) is exactly where I thought it was.
I've looked on line, and I can't find anything about the mound of venus that you speak of.
Am I missing something? Are there two mounds of venus? Or does Snow, Glass, Apples have some new, different meaning that I am just now noticing? This and Dorothy Parker's "The Little Hours" are my favorite short stories, so you can understand how important it is to me that I am able to reconcile what you meant with what I think of...

Yup, there are two mounds of Venus. There's the one on the base of the thumb, and the one that isn't. If you google "mound of venus" and, say, "palmistry" or "thumb", you'll just see lots of links to the thumb kind.


Many years ago I was sent a copy of "Flyboy Action Figure Comes With Gasmask" by Jim Munroe for a blurb, and by the time I read it it had already been published. It's an excellent book -- a funny, cool riff on superpowers (well...) and twentysomethingness. Jim's just got the rights to the book back and put it up on the web in downloadable format: you can get it at While you're his site, take a look around. I particularly enjoyed his letters to firms whose brands he had mentioned in his next novel, invoicing them for product placement.

I just noticed my old friend Steve Jones has his own website up. I've known Steve for about 21 years now. He's one of England's most active and knowledgable anthologists. I loved this account of his travails promoting the new edition of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF VAMPIRES. Steve is someone who knows what he's talking about, expects you to too, and will happily say things like "Well, of course you'd think that. That's because you're a moron," in a literary discussion, if he disagrees with you. This is Steve presenting a panel/signing on the book at the Vampire Society:

There then followed the question and answer session... It began fine. Then some guy in the audience asked me that hoary old question about why I don't use more women writers in my anthologies. I am so sick of hearing that. I tried to point out that the book included seven stories by women, which wasn't a bad percentage for a horror anthology, and that I had also edited another book which he might have heard of, The Mammoth Book of Vampire Stories by Women. He continued to argue. I went on to explain that I don't choose stories based on the race, creed or sexuality of the author but on what I perceive to be the quality of the fiction. He wasn't having any of that either. We argued some more. I lost my temper. Voices were raised.

At which point, a woman from the back of the room marched towards the panel, exclaiming in a loud voice that I was a disgrace, that she had never heard such language (I don't think I was swearing, at least not that much), and that she was leaving! Which she promptly did.

I was momentarily stunned. Something like that had never happened to me before. I made a throwaway comment about the woman's behaviour, and another guy in the audience leapt to his feet and said that I had treated that woman badly and that she was entitled to her opinion. I flippantly replied that I thought we were there to listen to the opinions of the people on the panel. He disagreed. Attempting to get the talk back on track, I called him an idiot and told him to sit down!

That's when I realised I had lost our audience.

Yup. That's our Steve. It's all at
There's an excellent interview with Steve, done by Nancy Kilpatrick, on the site where he talks about his career and his Best New Horror anthologies, along with a very scary photo of me as toastmaster at the World Fantasy Convention in 1993 with Steve and Dennis Etchison.

Hi neil, I was wondering how the production on the Death movied is going. I've been looking all over the internet and all I could find were old articles saying things would probably get started this spring. Is it still gonna happen? Has there been any progress?

Yup. Lots of progress, and it's all pretty interesting. I'll post stuff up here when there's a link to something in Variety or the Hollywood Reporter or something, though. Currently it's being budgeted, if that helps.

Mark Evanier linked to this article in Newsday: Carmine Infantino sues DC over the Flash. Interesting. Obviously Silver Age Flash was what's called a derivative character, which is something that these days DC would probably give you a share of -- not the full share you'd get if you created something completely new. But I wonder why Carmine's suing now -- it may have something to do with (if I'm remembering it correctly) copyright renewal laws on work done before 1978, which allow people who had signed away their rights to reclaim them after a certain period of time. If that's the case, and Carmine Infantino prevails, then we may see a number of other characters slipping their corporate leash to surviving creators who are now co-copyright holders, or, more likely, the characters being sold back to Marvel or DC.